British Columbia

Jen McCutcheon wins byelection for Electoral Area A director

McCutcheon will sit on TransLink's Mayors' Council, the Metro Vancouver board, and will be the only directly elected regional politician representing more than 15,000 people living at, or around, the University of British Columbia.

Turnout was approximately 9%

Jen McCutcheon will sit on the Metro Vancouver board as well as the TransLink Mayors' Council. (Jen McCutcheon)

Jen McCutcheon has won the byelection for director of Electoral Area A, becoming the only directly elected regional politician representing more than 15,000 people living at, or around, the University of British Columbia.

McCutcheon was elected with 80 per cent of the vote on Saturday, according to preliminary numbers.

She said she got the congratulatory phone call from Metro Vancouver around 9 p.m. PT.

"I was delighted," said McCutcheon, speaking over the phone Monday morning.

McCutcheon said she spent most of byelection day building a playground at her children's school. The old playground at University Hill Elementary was removed for safety reasons last year and McCutcheon was one of several parents who advocated for funding to install a new one.

They were successful in getting a government grant and the build was set for Saturday, byelection day, long before McCutcheon knew she would be running.

"It was great, actually. Kept me distracted," she said of the build.

"I hadn't thought I was nervous, then Sunday morning I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off me. So, yes, I guess I was." 

Low turnout

The turnout for the byelection was about nine per cent. Turnout for elections in Electoral Area A is usually low, but nine per cent is still at the lower end.

"In an area where we have no governance, I think regional politics are not really front and centre on people's radar," said McCutcheon, who was unsurprised by the turnout.

"It's a big challenge I've been thinking a lot about since Saturday: How do I engage as many people as I can in this region on these issues?"

As area director, McCutcheon will sit on TransLink's Mayors' Council — currently discussing a possible SkyTrain line to UBC — and the Metro Vancouver board. 

Electoral Area A includes Barnston Island, on the Fraser River south of Pitt Meadows, the west side of Pitt Lake, and the area between West Vancouver and Lions Bay.

However, more than 98 per cent of Electoral Area A residents live in the lands west of Blanca Street in Vancouver. That area is overseen by a patchwork of community associations, unelected government officials, UBC's board of directors and the Musqueam First Nation.

'The Gates' structure at Blanca Street and 10th Avenue serves as both a real and symbolic boundary between the City of Vancouver and Electoral Area A. (Tristan Le Rudulier/CBC)

"I really see the role as twofold: definitely being a voice representing the many different and diverse communities that live in Electoral Area A … But then also being a voice on how the future of our region grows," McCutcheon said. 

"I have young kids and I love this region and I want it to be an amazing region when my kids grow up."

McCutcheon, who has two children, ran as the only byelection candidate living in the riding. She previously worked as a physiotherapist and community advocate and has degrees from several universities, including UBC.

The previous director, Justin LeBlanc, resigned in February citing a higher-than-expected workload. He had only been in the role for a few months.

With files from Justin McElroy

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